Four Takeaways From The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft


The results of the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft were announced during the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas at The T-Mobile Arena Wednesday night.

While drafting Marc-Andre Fleury and James Neal was expected, there were a few surprises that came from the Golden Knights selections.

The Florida Panthers managed to lose two players including 30 goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault.

Four Takeaways From The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft
LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 21: Jonathan Marchessault is selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena on June 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It was like a Vegas magic show. POOF! Two prolific goal scorers vanished into thin air.

Not only did the Vegas Golden Knights officially select the Panthers leading scorer Jonathan Marchessault off Florida’s unprotected list, but Florida traded Reilly Smith (a 25-goal scorer in 2015-16) and his $25 million contract to the Golden Knights.

Marchessault had just concluded his first full NHL season with a team-leading 30 goals (51 points) for a franchise that ranked 23rd in goals scored. He led the Panthers with a 15.5 shooting percentage and tied Jaromir Jagr for the team lead with eight power-play goals.

Smith tallied 15 goals and 37 points this past year but is capable of scoring 25 goals and registering 70 points.

Expansion teams almost always have trouble scoring.  In part to Florida’s questionable actions, this won’t be the case with the Golden Knights.

The Minnesota Wild’s defensemen weren’t drafted.

Four Takeaways From The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 02: Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on February 2, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.The Islanders defeated the Wild 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Wild left their young stud defensemen Mathew Dumba and Marco Scandella exposed in the expansion draft. Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher was able to manipulate Vegas GM George McPhee into taking role player Erik Haula in exchange for laying off Dumba and Scandella. Fletcher also had to include a 2014 first-round pick in the deal, Alex Tuch.

McPhee had remarked that he was making defensemen his priority but somehow ignored two of the best defensemen available.

It is a head scratcher for sure.

The Russian connection.

Four Takeaways From The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft
COLOGNE, GERMANY – MAY 16: Nikita Gusev of Russia celebrates a goal during the Russia v USA 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship match at Lanxess Arena on May 16, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

McPhee had already signed Russian free agent Vadim Shipachyov, one of the KHL’s top centers. Because the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted to protect their young defenseman, the Lightning gave up the rights to one of the KHL’s best scorers, Nikita Gusev. Not only that, GM Steve Yzerman also sent over one of his 2017 second-round draft picks and a fourth-round pick next year.

It’s surprising to see former GM of the year Yzerman give up so much to protect young blueliners Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin.

McPhee is also negotiating with Russian Evgeny Dadonov.

If Gusev and Dadonov join Shipachyov, Vegas will boast a top line of Russian snipers.

Those picks and prospects.

Four Takeaways From The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 27: Alex Tuch speaks to the media after being selected eighteenth overall by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

McPhee picked up 10 draft picks from 2017 to 2020 just to not select players teams wanted to keep. The Vegas GM used the new expansion draft rules to guarantee his team’s future.

He snagged Minnesota Wild prospect Alex Tuch by agreeing to draft Erik Haula instead of selecting defensemen Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella or forward Eric Staal.

Along with picking up the aforementioned Gusev, McPhee wrangled away young defenseman Shea Theodore by staying away from Anaheim’s Josh Manson and Sami Vatanen.

Here are the Las Vegas Golden Knights picks (and players acquired via associated trades) prior to the lifting of the full trade freeze on Thursday morning:


Teemu Pulkkinen (Arizona Coyotes)

William Carrier (Buffalo Sabres)

Tomas Nosek (Detroit Red Wings)

Cody Eakin (Dallas Stars)

Jonathan Marchessault (Florida Panthers)

Reilly Smith (via trade, Florida Panthers)

Connor Brickley (Carolina Hurricanes)

Chris Thorburn (Winnipeg Jets)

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Philadelphia Flyers)

Nikita Gusev (via trade, Tampa Bay Lightning)

Mikhail Grabovski (via trade, New York Islanders)

James Neal (Nashville Predators)

Brendan Leipsic (Toronto Maple Leafs)

David Perron (St. Louis Blues)

Oscar Lindberg (New York Rangers)

Erik Haula (Minnesota Wild)

Alex Tuch (via trade, Minnesota Wild)

William Karlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets)

David Clarkson (via trade, Columbus Blue Jackets)


Luca Sbisa (Vancouver Canucks)

Jon Merrill (New Jersey Devils)

Brayden McNabb (Los Angeles Kings)

Jason Garrison (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Jake Bischoff (via trade, New York Islanders)

Deryk Engelland (Calgary Flames)

Colin Miller (Boston Bruins)

Marc Methot (Ottawa Senators)

David Schlemko (San Jose Sharks)

Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oilers)

Alexei Emelin (Montreal Canadiens)

Clayton Stoner (Anaheim Ducks)

Shea Theodore (via trade, Anaheim Ducks)

Trevor van Riemsdyk (Chicago Blackhawks)

Nate Schmidt (Washington Capitals)


Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche)

J-F Berube (New York Islanders)

Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Look closely at the Vegas selections and you’ll see a competitive squad thanks to GM George McPhee’s solid work.

Follow Bill on Twitter @LightningShout. You can also email him at: [email protected].

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